Geographic Determinism

History shows many examples of how geography and environmental determinism played a huge role in the development of early civilizations. It can be seen as early as Mesopotamia, where the constant tension between nomadic and settled lifestyles was an important aspect of early historical development. The Sumerian culture developed in southern Mesopotamia, near the Persian Gulf.

The civilization was generally pessimistic in outlook, an observation based mainly on the evidence of religious sources that depict a gloomy picture of the afterworld as a place of misery, because of the uncertain floods of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that destroyed river valleys.

Although the geography negatively affected the Mesopotamia civilization, it eventually had a positive effect because there was a strong push towards stronger irrigation systems and tech analogical advancements.

Jarred Diamond, according to his book, “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, characterizes an instance such as this as environmental determinism because a civilization’s environment positively affected everyday life. Political systems were also influenced by the geography because regional city-states near the rivers plopped strongly under leadership of the upper class.

Although, at first, the geography of Mesopotamia had a negative effect on the belief systems, it eventually produced widespread development in political, economic, and social organizations.

What Is Environmental Determinism In Geography

In contrast, Ancient Egypt developed and remained optimistic in history because of its environment. Geographically, the Nile River unified the region and made agriculture possible while the desert offered protection from nomadic invaders necessary for the evolution of centralized political authority.

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The Nile provided the civilization with optimism about the future because it produced soil-rich areas for agriculture. Egypt more defensible geography and sea-nourished Nile River resulted in a more politically, socially, and economically secure civilization.

In Asia, geography plays a major factor in the development of many civilizations. Separate regions caused economic diversity, racial differences, and diversity of language. China development was very original because, just like Egypt, deserts, seas, and mountains isolated it. However, China’s environment was characterized by the Yellow and Yanking rivers as well as patterns of mountain ranges that created disunity throughout China’s history. Downfalls in dynasties inhibited political, social, and economic developments.

It can be seen that a civilization’s geography greatly contributes to its own future because of the major effect it has on whether it succeeds or does not. In the regions of Micronesian, civilizations developed based on intensive agriculture. Geographically, the region of Mesospheric was a complex patchwork of zones divided into tropical lowlands and coasts. These climatic variations created different possibilities for human exploitation. The Elms have been called the mother civilization of Mesospheric.

They grew maize, especially along rivers, and it provided the basis for a state in which complex religion dominated life. Their impressive settlements, drainage systems, temple complexes, and ability to move stones weighing tons attest to a high degree of social organization and artistic skill. Geography influenced the development of this civilization because many other civilizations were developing elsewhere in Mesospheric and had influences on the Elms religiously, socially, and economically.

There was shared technology, and cultural elements were diffused to indicate political expansions during the time. Lastly, geography and environment influenced development in the Andes, specifically the Chapin culture. This culture was characterized by artistic motifs that spread widely throughout the Andean region. The Chapin artistic style was so widely diffused that archeologist call this a horizon, a period when a broad central authority seems to have integrated a widely dispersed region.

Geography played a part in the political, social, and economic development of this region because permanent agricultural villages were established in the Andean highlands where Maize was introduced, crops Were grown, and pottery was made. The highlands provided a place for irrigated agriculture to produce crops, for Llamas and related animals to be domesticated, and for dense populations and hierarchical societies to be formed. It can be seen throughout the world that the geography and environment of a specific civilization greatly affects its overall success and development through history.

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Geographic Determinism. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Geographic Determinism
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